Is the Quran or Bible the Word of God? Christianity or Islam?

The first complete Arabic Quran printed by movable type

The first complete Arabic Quran printed by movable type does not display perfect preservation

The first complete Arabic Quran said to have been printed by movable type appeared in Venice in 1537-8. It was thought to have been completely lost until a copy showed up in the 1980s, displaying a very faulty text:1

Perhaps the most important—and most elusive—printed book in Arabic is the edition of the Koran produced by the Venetian printer Paganino de’ Paganini in 1537-38. All copies were thought to have perished in a fire until one remaining example was discovered in the 1980s in the library of the Frati Minori di San Michele ad Isola in Venice. The edition was probably intended as a commercial venture, but its odd typeface was quite unacceptable by Muslim calligraphic norms, and the numerous errors in the Koranic text were even more objectionable to Muslim sensibilities. As a commercial—or even an evangelical—venture, it was not a success (Jonathan Bloom, Paper before Print: The History and Impact of Paper on the Islamic World, [New Haven 2001], 220).

Opening pages of the Koran printed by Paganino de’ Paganini in 1537-38.

Opening pages of the Koran printed by Paganino de’ Paganini in 1537-38. Library of Frati Minori di San Michele ad Isola, Venice.

Footnotes

  1. Michael W. Albin, “Printing of the Qur’an.” Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān. General Editor: Jane Dammen McAuliffe (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2005), CD-ROM version. []

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